5 Questions Heading Into Spring Practice: Part I

Is Anderson the right quarterback for the '03 football team? Who will replace the sensational defensive players that graducated last year?

1. Is Derek Anderson the quarterback for the Beavers in 2003?

Is Anderson the right quarterback for the Beavers? (Getty Images)

The above question is perhaps the most important, and most hotly debated topic by Beaver fans this offseason. Under Dennis Erickson, Anderson was the "chosen" quarterback. It was obvious that Erickson loved Anderson and would not put another quarterback in front of him.

The decision by Erickson to stick with Anderson was essential to the Beavers success in 2002. The team, the fans, and the coaching staff knew Anderson was the guy. This avoided a quarterback controversy and solidified Anderson's starting role.

But many Beaver fans have voiced their concern over Anderson's lack of "intangible skills" that Jonathan Smith had. True, Anderson has the physcial tools to get the job done in the Pac-10, but does he have the mental skills? Rarely, did Anderson look at his routes and choose the best one. Often Anderson would lock onto a receiver, never look away, and rifle the ball to him no matter what. Anderson also rarely calls audibles, something that Smith did extremely well.

Despite Anderson's apparent lack of football smarts (sic), Beaver fans cannot overlook his accomplishments last season. In his first full season as the Beavers quarterback, he broke three Oregon State single-season records (touchdown passes 25, passing yardage, 3,313, and total offense 3,082). With one full year under his belt Anderson should be a better quarterback, but not a solid lock for the Beavers' starting quarterback job.

Incoming freshman quarterback Danny Southwick will join the Beavers in the fall and could make a run at the quarterback position. Sophomore Anton Clarkson could also challege for the starting role. Most likely, Southwick and Clarkson will not take away the starting role from Anderson, but the healthy competition that Southwick and Clarckson will provide should spur Anderson on to work harder and become a better player.

Mitch Meeuwsen will solidify the Beaver backfield. (Getty Images)

2. Who's going to replace Eric Manning, Dennis Weathersby, Calvin Carlyle and Nick Barnett?

The Beavers lost four outstanding players in Manning, Weathersby, Carlyle and Barnett. All four had outstanding careers at Oregon State and are currently NFL bound. For the Beaver defense to be successful during the 2003 campaign, all four positions must be quickly and effectively filled.

Sophomore Henry Anderson, who sat out the 2002 season due to a broken arm, will take Manning's place at left tackle. Anderson at 6-3, 288 pounds is 12 pounds lighter than Manning, but a couple of inches taller. Anderson should immediatly contribute to the Beaver defense. He is a fiery individual who loves to talk. During one of last year's spring practices, Erickson had to stop coaching and yell at Anderson to shut up because he would not stop talking trash.

Aric Williams will replace Dennis Weathersby, Oregon State's career pass breakup leader at cornerback. Williams returned punts during the 2002 season where he did a decent job. Williams also played on special teams where he made great plays throughout the season.

Carlyle was injured for a small part of the season, but came back to share backfield duties with Lawrence Turner and Mitch Meeuwsen. Turner played all 13 games for the Beavers in 2003, where he made 60 tackeles and 4 interceptions. But Turner will have to watch his back as redshirt sophomore, Harvey Whiten, wants some playing time. Coaches say Whiten is the fastest player on the team.

Barnett will be replaced by 6 foot 2, 231-pound sophomore Seth Lacey who played sparingly in 2002.

Look for part 2 of this article Wednesday morning.

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